By Doug Gorman
Football season has officially come to an end in the Southern Crescent with both ELCA and Dutchtown getting knocked out of the playoffs last Friday.
Now thoughts turn to the high school basketball season which kicks into overdrive this week after a handful of games and holiday tournaments tipped off last week.
Three local teams have started the season ranked in the Gasports.com Coaches' poll, including the Forest Park Lady Panthers.
Forest Park (1-1) is ranked second in the Class AAAA poll. The Lady Panthers started the year with a 61-56 loss to Ridgeway (TN) before beating West Memphis 58-41.
The Lady Pathers are hoping to build on last year's run to the Final Four.
Head coach Steven Cole began his coaching career on the boys' bench, but made the switch to the girls' team a year ago. The magic worked for the Lady Panthers and they compiled a 24-7 record before losing to eventual state champions Southwest DeKalb in the semifinals.
Forest Park puts its ranking on the line tonight against a team from Georgia when it plays at home against Banneker.
On the boys side, North Clayton plays its season opener tonight at Tri-Cities.
The Eagles come into the contest ranked No. 6 in the Class AAAA boys' poll. Tri-Cities has played its first game of the season, losing 63-55 to Langston Hughes.
A year ago, North Clayton advanced all the way to the Elite 8 before falling to Richmond Academy at the state tournament.
The Stockbridge Tigers entered the 2010-11 season ranked No. 10 in the Class AAA poll, but dropped its first game to Woodland.
The Tigers travel to Spalding tonight with hopes of getting back on track.
Jonesboro could also be on the verge of being ranked. The Cardinals won the Parkview Thanksgiving Tournament and enter the week with a 3-0 record.
Tonight, Jonesboro plays at home against Creekside.
It's also a good night for local teams to renew their rivalries.
Among the other games are Woodland at Eagle's Landing, Mt. Zion at Lovejoy, Luella at Dutchtown, Union Grove at Northgate, and Locust Grove at Sandy Creek.
Girls games start tonight at 6 and boys games at 7:30.